What would you prefer learning to speak French or learning to make a robot? Well, a recent study has revealed that programming language Python has overtaken French as the most popular language to be taught in schools.
Exactly a year on from the introduction of the new Computing curriculum, the study commissioned by Ocado Technology shows that 75% of primary school children would opt for the coding language instead of French, and 60% of parents would agree.
The research conducted on a sample of 1,000 primary school age children, 1,000 secondary school age children and 1,000 parents would at first appear encouraging for the field of Computer Science. However, the findings also reveal that 53% of secondary school children perceive Computer Science to be an ‘easy option’.
This worrying trend is cause for concern for Director of Technology at Ocado Paul Clarke, who said: “Unfortunately this is an example of a wider and more serious problem that we face in terms of Computer Science in the UK not being treated as the serious engineering discipline that it undoubtedly is.
“The irony is that this is at a time when we are facing a massive shortfall in the number of software engineers and IT specialists who will be required to help build out the UK’s digital economy.”
In a direct attempt to address this, Ocado Technology has called for the government to make the Computer Science GCSE mandatory, as well as increase training for teachers to more effectively deliver the curriculum.
Whilst the disheartening opinions of the older pupils comes as a worry to Clarke, others have stressed that the computing curriculum and attitudes towards its inception may take a while to find its feet. The change to the school curriculum was a huge movement, with Chairman of Computing at School Group, Peyton Jones likening it to “a rocket taking off.”
Nevertheless Ocado are doing a lot to help school encourage pupils toward Computer Science, creating a free coding teaching resource calling Rapid Router – which is already being used by over 30,000 schools, pupils and teachers. The Key Stage 1 and 2 resource, which helps pupils learn work-related coding skills, includes a fun coding game with a “create” mode for pupils to build their own challenges. Upper key stage 2 pupils can also use Rapid Router to learn Python programming language.
It’s exciting to see the shift in attitude, more kids want to learn to code and it seems to be starting even younger. The six- and seven-year olds at our Code Clubs are hungry to learn more. Hopefully the pieces are starting to come together for tech education – we certainly won’t stop doing all we can until they have!